The Greek film “Piso Porta” [Eng. Title: Backdoor] may come across as a standard coming-of-age romantic drama, or a comedy even, but I suspect director Yorgos Tsemperopoulos had attempted something more ambitious. The tone in its narrative is less to do with nostalgia and more about circumspection, and is tinged with dark overtones reminiscent of symbolism as seen in communist-era Balkan films.
Set in 1966-67, we see young Dimitris’ story unfold through a linear flashback with which his present fate intercuts during the course of the narrative. When his property-developer father dies unexpectedly, Dimitris (Konstandinos Papadimitriou) finds it difficult to come to terms with changes that happen around him, particularly the addition of a new member into his family – his father’s lawyer Apostolos (Haris Sozos) who’d henceforth become his mother Fotini’s (Alexandriani Sikelianou) new husband. Apostolos would also enter politics and be elected Mayor, and will switch loyalties as the country is taken over by a dictatorship. Dimitris sorely feels the need to become an independent adult, manifested by his preoccupation with sex and its experience thereof. His personal rebellion draws parallel with the resistance to the country’s dictatorship, and he fumbles, makes mistakes, just as they do – it is plain to see that Dimitris is negotiating a particularly difficult puberty, just like the nation he’s living in…
One could interpret the film as using Dimitris’ coming-of-age as parable for a traumatic period in Greece’s recent political history, acknowledging the fact that the dictatorship was a necessary evil for Greece maturing into a modern democracy. It’s an ambitious proposal notwithstanding our views on the argument, but whether the film successfully interprets the message is a different matter. As a foreigner, I think the director could have developed the characters even further as there is a lot of ambiguity in their motives, and perhaps fleshing them out could have got the message across more forcefully, but perhaps this may also be the director’s intention. It’s a unique idea nevertheless, and for that very reason, Recommended Viewing..!
The Nudity: Maria Solomou and Eleni Kokkidou
Dimitris’ coming-of-age perhaps necessitates instances of nudity and sex, and it is provided by two fringe characters – the young and attractive housemaid Gina, and a mature prostitute, played by Maria Solomou and Eleni Kokkidou respectively.